Treating Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Scaling and Root Planing
Periodontal diseases are infections of the gum which gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. They often are painless, and you may not be aware that you have a problem until your gums and the supporting bone are seriously damaged The good news is that gum diseases often can be treated in the early stages with scaling and root planning.
What causes Gum Disease?
Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases than from cavities! The bacteria in your mouth form a colorless, sticky substance called plaque which adheres to your teeth and can eventually harm the enamel. Frequent brushing and flossing are good ways to remove these germs. However, if the plaque is not removed, it turns into a hard substance known as calculus which can inflame your gums. A tooth brush cannot remove calculus from your teeth. That is why we recommend that you get your teeth cleaned in our office twice a year so our skilled hygienists can remove all the hardened calculus above your gum line.
However, some people are prone to developing calculus even with two prophys per year. If it is left on your teeth, it eventually works its way down below the gum line, making a pocket between your teeth and your gums. This can become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and a receptacle for food debris, making the area difficult to keep clean. Our dentists and hygienists will gently measure the depths of these pockets with a special instrument called a periodontal probe. If the pockets are too deep (over 3 mm.), you may develop inflammation which causes your gums to bleed when you brush your teeth or eat certain foods. This inflammation is the early stage of gum disease, called gingivitis.
What is Scaling and Root Planing? How does it treat gum disease?
Scaling is a techniqueused to remove plaque and calculus below the gum line. Using an instrument called a small scaler or an ultrasonic cleaner, our hygienist carefully removes plaque and calculus down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. The tooth’s root surfaces then are smoothed or planed. This allows the gum tissue to heal. It also makes it more difficult for plaque to accumulate along the root surfaces. If gum disease persists after deep cleaning, our dentists will recommend that you see a gum specialist (periodontist) for additional treatment.
Does it hurt?
Our hygienist may want to numb the area to make the process more comfortable for you. Because you would not want to numb your entire mouth at one time, our hygienist will have you schedule one quadrant at a time for deep cleaning.
What is the difference between a regular prophy and deep cleaning?
Duringaregular prophy, our hygienist will scale your teeth at or above the gum line, and no anesthetic is necessary; in deep scaling and root planing, our hygienist will scale below the gum line and often uses an anesthetic. One is considered a preventative routine prophy; the other is a conservative periodontal treatment.
Please call one of our convenient offices with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
St. Louis City Office
Chippewa Dental Group
6680 Chippewa Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63109
In case of a dental emergency , you may reach us 24 hours-a-day through our Emergency Exchange: 314-388-5509.